The Archeology of Civic Sustenance: Sea-Side Developments in the Gulf

This sponsored-research seminar will address sustainable urban development at the onset of industrial revolution. Going beyond just documenting passive environmental design strategies, the very notion of sustainability will come into question, encompassing social, economic, political and cultural factors. The context of study consists of five principal cities around the Persian Gulf waters: Doha in Qatar, Muscat in Oman, Manama in Bahrain, Kuwait City in Kuwait, and Basra in Iraq. Sharing a common contextual basis, social and demographic interlinkages, and harsh climatic conditions, these five cities have sustained their populations for centuries.
Defined through its thematic and regional axes, the seminar will examine the urban evolution of these five cities, from the first permanent settlements to the creation of urban cores, public buildings, commercial spaces and neighborhoods. Focusing primarily on the period from 1800 up to the 1950s, historic city plans, neighborhood analyses, building typologies and construction techniques will be studied and juxtaposed so as to facilitate a comparative understanding of the forces shaping a sustainable urbanization. To augment the dialectics of this comparative effort, environmental, social and economic data and dimensions will be included. From global political forces, oil exploration and military conflict, to changes in life style, we will strive to identify the logic behind the sustainable evolution of the city.
This seminar is part of the Gulf Encyclopedia for Sustainable Urbanism sponsored research project. As such, substantial original material will be provided and several researchers will address specific dimensions of their expertise as guest speakers. Students in teams will work on each of the five cities. Each team will analyze, address and present the specific reasons, mechanisms, techniques, events and circumstances that sustained urbanization in their city. In conclusion, the Archeology of Civic Sustenance seminar will have much more of a projective, speculative and inquisitive nature. Students from all degrees and concentrations are welcome.
Professor Spiro Pollalis, principal investigator of the research, will be a guest lecturer in the seminar.